Tomorrow, the unofficial start of the pro football season kicks off with ESPN’s broadcast of the 2014 NFL Draft. As in the past, hundreds of thousands of people will follow the drama via the Internet. Unfortunately, a vulnerability contained on the website of one NFL franchise may leave that team’s fans blindsided by hackers.

This team’s website includes a Cross Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability, one that’s used as part of a nearly fool-proof cyber scam.

In these scams, attackers use emails about upcoming events as bait, e.g. “Find out who ‘Team X’ will take #1 in the draft…” These emails contain links directly to the team’s website. Each link is formatted correctly and looks 100% legitimate. Clicking the link executes a browser injection that lets the hacker display a pop-up window on top of the legitimate destination page. Pop-ups can display offers such as discount ticket promotions, new merchandise, etc. All information entered in a pop-up ends up in attackers’ hands.

While significant, the damage in such an attack — to the team’s on-line reputation and the victim’s credit profile — is still manageable. However, as 6Scan Co-founder Nitzan Miron points out, bigger issues are at stake.

“This is not a catastrophic vulnerability in terms of network or database access, but it is a critical link in the cyber kill chain,” Nitzan said. XSS can also be used to phish employees’ credentials, giving attackers direct access to a company’s network. Once inside a network, attackers can leverage advanced threats that are difficult to detect.

“Hacked websites have evolved into the number one attack platform. They are involved in 85% of attacks and have become a critical early link in the cyber kill chain,” Nitzan explained.

XSS scripting – which can only be found by a website or application scan – is one of the top 5 vulnerabilities 6Scan detects. Because such attacks take place at the browser level, website administrators never know they’re happening. This is just one of the threats that drive us to deliver automated scanning and remediation services that any business can deploy regardless of size or security expertise.

Stay Safe.